Animals Matter in Disasters – the New Zealand approach

 Our community expects a well-coordinated and efficient response to animal welfare issues during adverse events like storms. We are vulnerable, too, to international trade repercussions, unless we can demonstrate the highest standards of animal care. Consumers in our export markets increasingly want to know that products have been farmed ethically, and they will react to poor animal welfare stories.

Negative stories in international media can badly damage our reputation. The more knowledge we have, the better we can coordinate our responses and secure the viability of both individual farmers and the wider animal-based industries.” (Speech by a former New Zealand Agriculture Minister, Hon Jim Anderton, at NAWEM hosted stakeholder meeting, 2007.)

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference wish to thank Ms Bridget Vercoe, Country Director, World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), presented this workshop at this year’s event held 28-30 May at the Mercure Brisbane.  Her presentation explored the importance of good animal emergency management practice, including: the economic ramifications for the New Zealand economy, based on findings from a recently released research paper; animal welfare considerations; and the impact on evacuation compliance and associated civil defence emergency management procedures.

The focus of the presentation was on the strategies and tools that NAWEM use to facilitate changes to Government policy, legislative underpinnings to policy, and local arrangements to ensure that production and companion animal welfare is adequately managed during an adverse event.  It includes discussions on the following recent initiatives and policy changes: NAWEM and the benefits of having a coordinated and collaborative approach to animal emergency management. The Planning for Companion Animal Welfare in an Emergency. Director’s Guideline for CDEM Groups. A first for New Zealand and possibly the world, the guide covers all aspects of companion animal welfare emergency management including planning and legal considerations, operational arrangements, animal rescue, and the establishment and management of a temporary animal shelter. The New Zealand Animal Welfare Strategy and recent amendments to New Zealand’s Animal Welfare Act1999 . Disability Assist Dog identification – a standardised identification tag featuring the civil defence logo, to be worn by all certified disability assist dogs in New Zealand. The tag will assist with recognition of these dogs in an emergency, enabling rapid reunification with the owner/handler if separated, and access to all public centres (evacuation, welfare, recovery etc.) with their owner/handler.

The Australian & New Zealand Disaster and Emergency Management Conference enjoyed great success and looks forward to reconvening 5th-7th May 2014 at the QT on the Gold Coast.  Call for abstracts are now open.   Please submit your paper by clicking here.